Thursday, April 30, 2009

IPL Day 12

Maybe things are finally going my way. I predicted that the Chargers were over-achieving, that they didn't have the strength in depth - today I was proved correct. Big game coming up next Tuesday, we'll see if form can be maintained till then.

In the second game, another good result. Raina won the match on his own.

By the way, I still get people thinking this is all only about the IPL. At one level it is, but regular readers will know me better than that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

IPL Day 11

Game one, Kolkata lost again. With one ball to spare. I had hoped that the Challengers would finally mount a decent challenge, but why now, why against my home team? The cricketing gods are taunting me. However top scorer for Bangalore was a young chap I'd never heard of called Shreevats Goswami. His home town, Kolkata.

In game two, another nailbiter. RB from Essex failed again but at least scored more runs than SRT from Mumbai, Slinga Malinga justified my prediction that he would be the bowler of the tournament, but Punjab still crept to victory off the very last ball.

An aside, an insight. The IPL gets stick for being crass commercialised corrupted cricket. And it's true that the short boundaries, the incessant sponsorship and the over-excitable commentators do their best to ruin the game. But as a format 20:20 has great attributes. Every ball really matters, and the most successful bowlers have been the canny spinners and the superfast expresses - these are the ones who the doom-mongers said were only good for test matches and unsuitable for the one day game. They were partially right, "traditional" fifty-over one-day games encouraged medium pace trundlers and bits-and-pieces trundlers - but 20:20 seems to encourage specialism and special talent, and long may it continue.

Monday, April 27, 2009

IPL Day 10

OK, so I was wrong again, disappointed again. These are tough and demoralising times.

So time to make some brave predictions.

First game, the Chargers won again, so the commentators say that with their 100% record, they are now favourites for the league title. Just like Alan Hansen always predicts that the team leading the Premiership will win at the end, that the bottom three teams will be relegated. Anyway, they are cowards and they are wrong. The Chargers are overly reliant on just three batsmen (GiGi and Rohit Sharma) and their only real strike bowler is Fidel Edwards. They won't all fire in every match. So despite their 100% record so far, I predict fail.

And in game two, the Indians stuffed the Knight Riders. At least Ganguly was top scorer. But realistically, sadly, it's not looking good for the Bengali Boys either.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

IPL Day 9

1. No report today.

2. It was the London Marathon.

3. I got up early to go for the one bit of sport that has become routine, though infrequent.

4. As usual though, I could run for perhaps an hour, then the rest was at walking pace.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

IPL Day 8

Stats do not always tell the whole story, and neither do results. Most commentators play a game of post-justification - whoever won deserved to win - that's not a game I play.

For the Chargers won "comfortably" - only three batsmen made decent scores but countless edges went just wide of fielders and they only had three decent bowlers. Yet once again in my opinion Mumbai had the best batsmen and once again Malinga was unplayable. But the breaks went the way of the Deccans, not just from Ojha. So well played to the winners, but if luck evens out in the end, the Indians will still go through.

In the second game the prince of Kolkata might have led the Knight Riders to a thorough thrashing of the Chennai Super Kings, but the match was rained off.

Friday, April 24, 2009

IPL Day 7

Despite my prediction from Day 5, the Royal Challengers failed to rise to the royal challenge of the Kings XI. Though , like my verdict from Day 6, it was another gut-wrenching result.

It's true that the only Bengali playing was for the Punjab side, but there is something about the Bangalore team that makes them a favourite second team. That something is partially the portly figure of Jesse Ryder, proving that an athletic build is no requirement for an athletic performance. But the main reason is undimmed respect for the underappreciated enthusiasm, passion and technical excellence of Dravid and Kumble. Their combined age is more than 70, but as with Ganguly for Kolkata, they embody the spirit of the side far more than the imported captain. They both scored more runs than KP too.

Still, connections, a game between two sides from India being played in South Africa, and the man of the match was a chap with the initials RB from Ilford, Essex.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

IPL Day 6

Gutted. Gutted. A sad day for Kolkata. The worst kind of loss. There was hope till the very end before it was cruelly dashed. Dada did his best, did better than anyone else on his team, but his colleagues let him down. Why do we care?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

IPL Day 5

Thought about taking a Budget Break today. Not sure I can afford one.

According to all match reports, the Deccan Chargers comfortably beat the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Well they did win, but in my contrary view it was not so comfortable. I can't believe that Fidel Edwards will continue to outbowl Dale Steyn, that Ohja will continue to outbowl Kumble, that Jesse Ryder and KP will repeatedly fail.

My prediction, the early chargers will soon be overtaken by now latent challengers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

IPL Day 4

Isn't it ironic ...

"the weather was the most important factor" in the decision to move the IPL to South Africa instead of to England.

According to Vijay Mallya, the owner of the Royal Challengers team (and of Kingfisher Beer):

"I guess weather conditions clinched the issue for South Africa. In England, there were chances that matches would have been rained off. Both teams sharing the point affects the competitiveness of the event."

Today the game in Durban was rained off. In England it was bright and sunny all day.

IPL Day 2

Twenty twenty was meant to be a new type of game. Not the traditional cricket we know and love. It was meant to be all about big hitting, slogging, power plays and military medium restrictive bowling.

But it isn't. Stars of the first couple of days are the old dudes: batting legends like Dravid and Tendulkar; bowling legends like Warne, Kumble, Vettori, Bhaji, Murali.

It's not just because these guys are my cricketing idols. It is because they have proved that technique matters, experience matters, style matters.

It is test cricket at its finest. With cheerleaders :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

IPL Day 1

Season two of the greatest festival of cricket in the world (see here, here, here) started today. And it got off to a great start - two fabulous games. Of course you can read the official match reports on Cricinfo, but a few words of alternative insight should be published here.

First game was the clash of the titans - the mighty Mumbai Indians, the most expensive team in the league, up against the Chennai Super Kings, the team who might be named after a brand of cigarette but who are captained by India's captain and feature Freddie Flintoff. It was a high quality match, good batting, good bowling, good fielding, and Mumbai won by 19 runs. My gripe is with the "verdict". They gave "man of the match" accolades and money to Tendulkar. The commentator said the decision was a formality. That was the easy option - he scored 59 runs in 49 balls at a strike rate of 120. And he is the greatest batsman of our generation. But today he was overshadowed by a relatively unknown colleague called Abhishek Nayar who scored 35 runs in just 14 balls at a strike rate of 250.

Yet I don't think any batsman really made the winning difference. Mumbai's bowlers deserved the credit. Harbhajan Singh was the one who kept things tight in the middle of the innings, he bowled slow and clever and conceded only 5 runs per over. But the guy who won the match was a young Sri Lankan called Lasith Malinga. He bowled fast, accurate, swinging, yorkers at the most critical stages of the innings, took 3 wickets for 15 and he looked almost unplayable.

But the easy option is just to give the award to the guy who scores the most runs, particularly when that guy is Sachin Tendulkar.

Meanwhile in game 2, the defending champions Rajasthan Royals were bowled out for just 58 runs, the lowest ever IPL total, chasing a Bangalore score of 133 in which Rahul Dravid scored 68 runs in just 48 runs. Deja Vu.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Corporate Jungle

I was working a bit in the garden today, first time this year, cutting back the evergreen ivy that appears to have been spreading all winter while the deciduous stuff took a long break.

And I thought about the forest. After any clearing, there is a battle for light and a battle for growth between the two types of plant. Who wins?

Well it is obvious that the green climbers grow faster than the trees. They don't need to waste energy putting down deep roots and providing solidity. They may be creepy and parasitic, but they are the ones who get ahead.

But. When we look back at a jungle, or when we look for core essence of the jungle, then we usually think of the trees.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Number One Red

David James has reclaimed the position of England's national goalkeeper. According to most pundits, he fully deserved it. According to Match of the Day that is verified.

Talking of Match of the Day, over the last few seasons they have been raving about how consistently superb Brad Friedel has been for Blackburn.

Both James and Friedel were recently released by Liverpool FC for not being good enough. The solution to the problems was to be Jerzy Dudek, the astounding young Polish keeper.

Despite a fine record in saving penalties , Dudek was considered small for a goalkeeper with not enough of a powerful presence. The giant Sander Westerveld was also the regular number one, but he too was let go.

Perhaps Liverpool should look to the future. Chris Kirkland? Scott Carson?

Although they are still playing, and playing astoundingly well, none of them currently plays for the club.

Why do they keep letting their stoppers go? What future has Reina?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Maxim Um Pornography

Firstly, an administrative point unrelated to this note. After a few random bits of spam on my last posts, fearing more now, I've finally decided to put Word Verification on comments to this blog. It should only take a second to use.

But there's a serious point to be made here. It has just been announced that the Maxim monthly magazine will cease publishing a UK edition. I have friends who were on the staff there - they still write good stuff as freelance journalists. But even in conversation with these employees, even at the height of their popularity, I confessed that I never liked Maxim, neither its siblings and offspring such as FHM, Loaded and Nuts.

It would be easy to pretend now that I didn't like them because they were actually soft pornography pretending to be general interest magazines. But I won't pretend. I didn't like them because they were actually soft pornography pretending to be general interest magazines. Exactly same words just different emphasis.

This is dodgy ground. But I'm a right-on PC dude really. Broadly speaking, soft porn portrays a stereotypical image of women. You know the typical attributes, typical poses. But again broadly speaking, hard porn celebrates diversity - women of all different shapes and sizes and behaviours. Not just women, unfortunately. But if we are to celebrate diversity, there will always be some elements of that diversity that are unpleasant.

Disclaimer: I do not purchase pornography of any kind, hard or soft.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Dagenham Dream

Watching the BBC and random musing

1. Started out in poverty in the East End of London - couldn't afford shoes

2. Worked at the Ford plant - protested against the violence in 'Nam

3. Eventually found own voice - inspired by Faith

4. Manipulated by the puppetmasters - didn't like it

5. Recently spent a lot of time with people who need therapy


Obviously, that's Sandie Shaw.


It's the first day of the rest of my life.

I remember that exactly one year ago today, I discovered God. Though I'm not sure of the capitalisation there, I prefer this style. And just a few days ago, I discovered him again, this time he was lurking around on Twitter. Then somebody told me that my discovery was not "the real God", but in no time at all I found "The Real God" lurking around there too.

Talking of capitalisation, the G20 meetings and G20 riots are now going on just a few miles away, but it's all quiet and peaceful at home at the moment - loads of ideas swimming round my head, will develop a few here later.

And the rules will return.